A new Department of Defense inspector general report released last week estimated that the Afghan government possessed $7.12 billion worth of equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars when it fell roughly a year ago, “much of which has since been seized by the Taliban.”
“This included military aircraft, ground vehicles, weapons, and other military equipment,” the release noted. “The condition of these items was unknown, and the long-term operability of the vehicles was likely to deteriorate without U.S. contractor maintenance.”
The actual amount of equipment left in Taliban hands may be far higher than the $7 billion figure. In August 2021, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., reported the abandoned equipment cost more than $85 billion.
“Due to the negligence of this administration, the Taliban now has access to over $85 billion worth of American military equipment,” Banks said immediately after a congressional briefing. “That includes 75,000 vehicles, over 200 airplanes and helicopters, over 600,000 small arms and light weapons. The Taliban now has more Black Hawk helicopters than 85 percent of the countries in the world. … They also have night vision goggles, body armor, medical supplies.”
During the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year, social media was flooded with images of the invaders parading with U.S.-made weapons that American forces and the fleeing Afghan government left behind. Taliban fighters drove Humvees and armored SUVs adorned with the white Taliban flag through the streets and brandished American-made weapons.
Fast-forward a year, and the Biden administration and Congress have been shipping bushels of money to Ukraine as the Eastern European country fights its Russian invaders. If Russia continues to capture Ukrainian soil, what’s to keep American weapons and equipment from falling into the wrong hands just as they did in Afghanistan?
Our elected officials have spent $54 billion of Americans’ money on Ukraine, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanding an ongoing payout of $7 billion per month to keep his government running. Just Friday, U.S. officials announced a new $775 million weapons package for Ukraine, including “15 ScanEagle surveillance drones,” “40 heavily armored MaxxPro mine-resistant vehicles,” and “TOW guided anti-tank missile systems, sixteen 105mm howitzers and 36,000 rounds.”
When Congress voted on a $40 billion package to Ukraine in May, Florida Republican Rep. Greg Steube summarized: “less than 6 hours before a vote, the Democrats dropped a massive, last-minute bill to send $40 billion more without any safeguards, assurances of use, or proof of a strategic plan for the U.S. role in Ukraine.”
“I voted in April to approve a loan of U.S. military equipment to Ukraine and voted in March for $14 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine,” he continued. “Since then, Congress has not received a single report on how much of this funding was spent, if any, nor assurances that the funding even reached Ukraine.”
Even CNN admitted, “What happens to weapons sent to Ukraine? The US doesn’t really know,” before hand-waving the question with the absurd explanation that “It’s a conscious risk the Biden administration is willing to take.”
A June Department of Defense report broke down some of the weapons and equipment being sent to Ukraine on taxpayers’ dime, including:
Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Over 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; Over 20,000 other anti-armor systems; Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems; 126 155mm Howitzers and 260,000 155mm artillery rounds; 36,000 105mm artillery rounds; 126 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers; 19 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment; Eight High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition; 20 Mi-17 helicopters; Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles; 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; Over 10,000 grenade launchers and small arms; Over 59,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets; 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems; Laser-guided rocket systems; Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems; … 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats; M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions; [and] Thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders.
If Russia continues to overtake territory in Ukraine, it’s not unlikely some of that equipment and weaponry could fall into Russian hands. The Biden administration’s track record of incompetence — in its disastrously disorganized withdrawal from Afghanistan and in every other area — doesn’t lend itself to the belief that haphazardly pouring money and weapons into Ukraine is a calculated or “conscious risk,” as the CNN narrative-setters would have you believe. Rather, Biden’s handling of Ukraine suggests to the U.S. taxpayers whose money he is recklessly sending overseas that he’s learned little from a year ago.
Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.